STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club entered a crew into the prestigious Women’s Eights Head of the River Race on the Tideway of the River Thames in London.
From humble beginnings, the event has now become the largest women’s rowing race in the world as 320 crews took to the water which involved 2,880 participants who tackled the 6.8km course from Mortlake to Putney.
Stratford entered Freya Watts, Lucy Brown, Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Uchenna Nwachukwu, Leah Saunders, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxswain Imogen Hill in the club’s distinctive yellow Empacher VIII.
The race is run as a time trial with boats setting off in single file as Hill left a sizeable gap to the crew in front which allowed Stratford to row in clear water.
Stratford settled into a strong rhythm as they shot through Barnes Bridge well clear of the crew behind and had a clear run up Chiswick Eyot.
And they managed to catch Cranford School as they approached Hammersmith Bridge after Hill persuaded their cox to move aside.
The girls dug deep over the final 2km, the toughest section of the race past Craven Cottage football ground to the Black Buoy, and finished in a time of 21 minutes 47 seconds to place 119th overall.
Coach Sam Hill said: “Yet again, the squad have risen to the occasion and produced a superb result with the help of Leah Saunders who joined us from Evesham Rowing Club for the event and fitted into the boat so well.”
That same weekend, Stratford Boat Club adaptive member Isaac Clarkson joined nearly 2000 other young people at the Copper Box Arena in London for the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships.
Clubs and schools from around the country battled it out on the ergos (indoor rowing machines) with the competition simultaneously run at a new venue in Leeds.
And Clarkson set a new personal best (PB) in the Year Eight Boys’ (able-bodied) category which placed him in the upper half of 267 entrants whilst he also overcame an equipment snag to finish fifth in the Year Eight SEND category.
Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach, Mark Dewdney, said: “A lot of fun had, some lessons learned and a whole lot of determination to go back even stronger next year.
“We are very proud of Isaac who is our youngest adaptive member and has made amazing progress not only on the ergos but also sculling each week on the water, an example to us all of true grit and determination.”